Tulane to Create 8th Presidential Chair with $5M Gift from Alumnus

Tulane alumnus Richard Lerner (far right) has pledged $5 million to establish the Lawrence E. Lerner Presidential Chair Endowed Fund in honor of his father, Lawrence (far left), and mother, Iris (center left); the family is pictured at the commencement of Richard Lerner’s nephew, Josh Lerner (center right). (Photo courtesy of the Lerner family)

NEW ORLEANS – A $5 million gift from Tulane alumnus Richard M. Lerner will create the university’s eighth Presidential Chair, this one devoted to increasing the world’s scientific understanding of aging and longevity.

Tulane will establish the Lawrence E. Lerner Presidential Chair Endowed Fund to support a professor in an interdisciplinary area of academic study. Lerner has requested that the initial chair holder be a scholar whose research focuses on gerontology or related disciplines. The Presidential Chair is named for Lerner’s father, a real estate developer and bank director who died in 2019.

For Lerner, the major challenge facing gerontology today is not just adding years to life but ensuring that those years are marked by higher levels of good health, vitality and vigor.

“It’s great that people are living longer thanks to advances in science and medicine, but from experience, many of us know that those additional years are not always good ones,” Lerner said. “In simplest terms, I hope that new and innovative research in the field of aging makes it possible for our loved ones to derive some pleasure from those incremental years. If not, what is the point?”

Presidential Chairs are one of the top priorities for Tulane President Michael Fitts as he seeks to attract some of the world’s most renowned faculty members in areas such as biomedicine, coastal restoration, global health and fields not yet explored. These faculty members will embark on a pursuit of teaching and research that crosses multiple disciplines and helps transform the world.

“This gift is a testament to Rick Lerner’s devotion to Tulane, his love for his father and his concern for humanity,” Fitts said. “Rick thought very carefully about how best to honor his father and support Tulane while also addressing an issue of vital importance to the world. As our population experiences increased lifespans, understanding the science and improving the potential for healthy aging becomes more and more central to our society and to our future.




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